The Green, Green Privately-Owned Grass of Home

The National Center’s executive director David W. Almasi on lawn care:

Want a quick example of how private property rights are the best way to protect the environment? Look out at your front yard.

I just returned from a 10-day vacation. One of the last things I did before I left home was cut the grass. Within an hour of returning home, I was back out cutting the grass — this time in 90-degree heat. I was also pulling weeds, planting vegetable seedlings in the garden. I then made arrangements for a professional service to come and do some fertilizer treatments. As I worked, three of my neighbors were also mowing. We all want to be proud of our lawns and not be a nuisance to others.

Compare this to what I see on my commute to and from work. On one major road, the grass on the median strip is so high that I almost cannot see the oncoming traffic. While the grass is high in the median, the weeds are even higher and now in full bloom. Along the Washington Beltway, weeds and grasses are over waist-high. Who’s in charge of cutting and tending to these areas? The government.

Take this beyond my yard and my commute. Local governments, state governments and the federal government own a huge amount of land — so much that they cannot adequately take care of it all. Homeowners, ranchers and businesses that own property, however, manage their property for reasons of pride and profit and most often go the extra mile to make sure that their land does not go fallow or cause harm. With government, neglect is often a write-off. It’s also inconsistent. In the Washington area, a homeowner can be fined for not mowing, raking leaves or shoveling snow. If the government is lax in it’s groundskeeping, well…

Private ownership: pride and attention. Government ownership: the potential for neglect. Any questions?

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.